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Visva SMS plea to staff to attend work

Santiniketan, Sept. 20: The Visva-Bharati registrar yesterday circulated a text message among teachers and officials telling them to be present for work during the 12-hour general strike today, the move a first by the varsity.

“University will remain open on September 21, 2012. All are requested to be present on duty. Please inform all. Registrar,” the SMS forwarded by Mani Mukut Mitra read. The registrar did not specify if anybody would be penalised for remaining absent.

Sources said the decision to send such a message was vice-chancellor Sushanta Duttagupta’s initiative to make the varsity function normally on bandh days.

“The vice-chancellor had clearly said the university should work normally today and studies should not be affected by the strike,” Visva-Bharati spokesperson Amrit Sen said.Duttagupta had also instructed teachers, students and officials to be present on February 28, when Left trade unions had called a general strike. But the verbal order drew a thin attendance in classes and offices.

“On February 28, there was no written order to staff members. So, very few people came to work. This is the first time a written message has been issued,” a senior varsity official said.According to one of Visva-Bharati’s principals, classes were held normally today and so also all official work. “Around 80 per cent of the students came for classes,” he said.

Visva-Bharti had in 1981 taken a decision to keep the varsity closed on bandh days. During the tenure of the last vice-chancellor, Rajat Kanta Ray, officials were told that the varsity would be open but there was no instruction on attendance.

Varsity officials said students would not face problems to come for classes on a bandh day as most of them stayed in hostels on the campus while day scholars lived within few kilometres of the varsity.

Students, teachers and administrative officials said they were happy work was normal in Visva-Bharati today. “This was not the case earlier when both students and teachers would be absent on such days,” a student of English said.